Netanyahu promises ‘safe passage’ to Rafah civilians, disputes Gaza toll

Netanyahu mentioned in an interview aired Sunday that ‘victory’ was inside attain in Gaza however it requires Israel to invade the densely populated metropolis of Rafah (RONEN ZVULUN)

Israel will push into Rafah in southern Gaza regardless of widespread issues over the potential toll, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned in a tv interview aired Sunday, vowing to supply “protected passage” for civilians out of the overcrowded metropolis.

“Victory is inside attain. We will do it. We will get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah, which is the final bastion,” Netanyahu instructed ABC Information, in an extract of the “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” interview launched Saturday night.

Regardless of worldwide alarm over the potential for carnage in a spot filled with greater than half of the Gaza Strip’s 2.4 million folks, Netanyahu mentioned: “We will do it whereas offering protected passage for the civilian inhabitants.”

It stays unclear nonetheless, the place the massive variety of folks pressed up towards the border with Egypt, many sheltering in makeshift tents, would go.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers have warned of doubtless “tens of 1000’s” of casualties in Rafah, whereas EU’s international coverage chief Josep Borrell joined different worldwide voices in saying an offensive there “would result in an unspeakable humanitarian disaster.”

Israel’s fundamental backer, the USA, has mentioned it doesn’t assist a floor offensive in Rafah, warning that, if not correctly deliberate, such an operation dangers “catastrophe.”

When pressed about the place the inhabitants was speculated to go, Netanyahu mentioned: “You already know, the areas that we have cleared north of Rafah, loads of areas there. However, we’re understanding an in depth plan.”

“Those that say that by no means ought to we enter Rafah are principally saying, ‘Lose the conflict. Maintain Hamas there,'” mentioned the prime minister.

The well being ministry in Gaza says the large Israeli offensive since October 7 has killed no less than 28,064 folks, largely girls and kids.

However Netanyahu asserted on ABC that the civilian toll, as a share of complete deaths, was dramatically smaller.

“I can inform you that in response to these city warfare consultants and different commentators, we have introduced down the civilian-to-terrorist casualty, the ratio, all the way down to beneath 1-to-1 … And we will do extra.”

He mentioned Israeli forces had “killed and wounded over 20,000 Hamas terrorists, out of that, about 12,000… fighters.” Netanyahu didn’t specify how he differentiated “terrorists” and “fighters.”

Israel final offered such figures on January 9, when it mentioned that round 9,000 Hamas fighters had been killed.

Hamas’s October 7 assault on Israel resulted within the deaths of about 1,160 folks, largely civilians, in response to an AFP tally primarily based on official figures.

In early January, the UN’s Workplace of the Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights mentioned it had “repeatedly highlighted Israel’s recurring failures to uphold the elemental rules of worldwide humanitarian legislation: distinction, proportionality, and precautions in finishing up assaults.”

US President Joe Biden, in his strongest criticism of Israel but, on Thursday described the Israeli navy response as “excessive.”

Netanyahu instructed ABC Information he appreciated Biden’s “assist for Israel because the starting of the conflict,” however that he didn’t “know precisely what he meant by that.”

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